Three ways we misunderstand godliness.

Godliness, Sanctification, Sin

Our culture has a twisted view of godliness. Most people view it as an antiquated concept that has more to do with keeping your room tidy than it does the condition of your heart. The world tells us to resist and suppress conviction as we whole-heartedly pursue every desire of our flesh. Even Christians can be reluctant to embrace godliness, as it can seem like a dull, grace-less practice. But what does the Bible have to say about godliness? Paul writes about godliness in many of his epistles, including his letter to Titus.

In Titus 1:1-4, we read:

1 Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness,

in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior;

To Titus, my true child in a common faith:

Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.

Verse one tells us that Paul was made a servant of the gospel for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness. 

Before we break down the meaning of the verse, let’s dive into a couple of Greek words:

The word for knowledge used in the verse is epignōsis — the most intimate word for “knowledge” in Greek, describing truly, completely knowing and understanding something or someone.

The word for truth in Greek is alētheia — the very same word used in John 14:6, in which Jesus tells us that He is the way, truth, and life. It’s non-negotiable, always and forever truth.

So, Paul is telling Titus in this introductory verse that godliness accords with knowledge of the truth, which is a knowledge of Jesus Himself. What does this mean? Let’s flesh it out by taking a look at a few of the ways that men and women misunderstand godliness and corrupt it in their misguided pursuit.

  1. Some people pursue godliness for the wrong reasons.

Paul writes to Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:3-6:

If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived ofthe truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. But godliness with contentment is great gain,

These people teach false doctrine, crave controversy, and imagine that godliness is a means of gain. People who misunderstand the purpose of godliness are prone to use it for their own gain and glory. They think that pursuing God is all about their own success and comfort. They stir up drama within the church and think that their teaching is always right. Their desires are not healthy, but lead to pain and death within the Body. Godliness is not something that we are to use for our selves, but something that God uses to sow unity in the Body of Christ and to witness to His free gift of eternal life to the world. In verse 6, we see that godliness with contentment is great gain. As believers are satisfied completely in Christ, they tell the Church and the world of God’s amazing, redeeming love. The content believer does not strive for personal gain, but uses his or her godliness as a tool to witness about Christ. Godliness acknowledges that God has given is all we need, so we can add to it contentment, no matter our circumstances.

2. Some people fake godliness.

In his second letter to Timothy, Paul writes again about godliness in 2 Timothy 3:2-5, describing the men and women of the last days before Christ’s return:

For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.

These words convict me as I read them — am I practicing any of the traits of the people that Paul advises Timothy to avoid? These people have the appearance of godliness, but they deny its power. Their lives are full of written fruit, and yet they claim to be healthy, fruitful trees (Matthew 7:15-20). Everyone is being sanctified by the Lord, and no one will be without their sinful nature this side of heaven, but we are called to be holy as God is holy (1 Peter 1:16). We are not to let sin ran rampant in our hearts and lives while we fight to preserve an air of godliness. We’re instead to humbly submit to God and His Spirit within us, repenting of sin (1 Timothy 6:11). The people who fake godliness have a small view of God, “denying [His] power.” In 2 Peter 1:3, Peter writes:

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence,

Peter extolls God’s mighty power, which has granted us all things that pertain to life and godliness. Peter understood how large and mighty God’s power is, and because of it he trusts that God provides everything that we could need in this life and in our pursuit of godliness. Peter is not filled with self-righteousness or pride, claiming that he has already achieved perfection, but his large view of both God’s holiness and power give him faith that the Lord will provide all he needs in order to be fully sanctified. If you are filled with pride or “faking” godliness while your heart is filled with sin, pray to the Lord that He will expand your view of Him and your understanding of your need for His power.

3. Lastly, people are prone to give up on godliness.

In Matthew 13, Jesus explains the parable of the sower to his disciples. Verses 20-22 describe some of the reasons why people are prone to give up on godliness:

20 As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, 21 yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. 22 As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.

Not everyone who initially responds to the gospel will continue in the faith. Tribulation, persecution, the cares of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches can all discourage the roots of the gospel to take seed in hearts and lead to fruitless crops. But we don’t have to end like this. Peter writes in 2 Peter 3:10-12a about the way that believers are to wait for God to return:

10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.

11 Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness,12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God,

As we wait for Christ’s return and justice to be brought to the earth, we are to run hard and fast after holiness and godliness. We need to remember that God is faithful to fulfill His promises, and He has promised us that Christ will soon return. Peter believed that He could take God’s word as true, and it enabled him to pursue godliness as he waited for Christ’s return. The Promiser remains as faithful as ever, and we too can be people of holiness and godliness as we wait for the Kingdom to be fully realized with Christ’s return.

Remember Titus 1:1, in which Paul equated godliness with a knowledge of the truth?

1 Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness,

Godliness is living obediently in light of the reality of who God is. Good doctrine is foundational to understanding who God is. You cannot pursue godliness successfully without a proper understanding of God’s character and nature. As we begin to love and serve the Lord in the reality of who He is, however, His mighty power enables us to live godly lives that glorify Him. Pray for Him to continue to correct and guide your doctrine so that it is in submission with His Word. Keep seeking our faithful Father and Master as you pursue to live a life that reflects His holiness to the world, and remember the words of Paul in 1 Timothy 4:7-8:

Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.

Be blessed!

 

Photo by Giulia Bertelli on Unsplash
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30 Questions for Discipleship.

Discipleship, Uncategorized

I recently started working part-time in the youth ministry at my church, and my favorite part of the job is meeting up with the girls one-on-one for discipleship. Over an iced coffee, I love to chat about how the Lord is working in her life. It’s amazing how the Holy Spirit can open up a young lady’s heart to understand and comprehend more about the Lord, and it’s a privilege to be used by Him in the process.

It can be difficult to know how to get the conversation started, however. Sometimes all those young ladies want to chat about it the guy they like or the newest drama in their friend groups. While there’s definitely a time and place to address those issues, a few guiding questions can lead your conversation into a more fruitful place. I compiled a list of some of my favorite questions, often asked of me when I met with my disciplers in high school & college.

discipleship questions

Here’s my favorite conversation starters to use with a disciple:

Prayer

How can I pray for you?

What is something you are praying for?

When has God clearly answered a prayer of yours, and what did it look like?

Her story

Would you share your testimony with me?

How did God reveal to you your need for Him?

Which attribute of God’s character has been clearly demonstrated in your life?

How has God redeemed something in your life for good?

Getting to know God

What is something that you love about God?

Which attribute of God’s character do you desire to know in a deeper way?

How is God fulfilling promises from the Word in your life?

What are you grateful to God for?

The Word

What is God teaching you in the Word?

What is one of your favorite verses or passages in the Bible? Why?

What are you reading & studying in the Word?

What verse/passage have you been challenged by lately?

How can you practically obey or live in light of the Word today?

Life

How have you seen God working this past week?

What are you expectant for God to do this next week?

What is God teaching you in this season of life?

How is God working in ______ (school, work, family, friendships, relationships, etc.)?

Which books are you reading/sermons are you listening to?

Mission

Have you talked with anyone about Christ lately? How did it go?

What are some gifts God has given you, and how can you use them for His glory?

What are some passions God has given you for His Kingdom?

How are you working to develop them?

What do you see as your current mission field?

How is God faithfully providing in that mission?

Planning for the Future

What do you desire God to accomplish in your life in this next season?

How do you want to grow in your walk with the Lord?

How is God calling you to walk in obedience in this next season of life?

 

Praying these will be a blessing to you and lead to many sweet conversations about the Lord and His great faithfulness.

If you have any other questions that you love to use while discipling girls, please leave them in a comment!

Photo by Monet Garner on Unsplash

Mental health helps.

Health, Miscellaneous, Sanctification

Hey friends. It’s been a minute since I last posted on here… three whole months. They were full of joys & sorrows & struggles & growth. Through the good & the bad days, I’ve seen a resurfacing of mental health issues that I’ve dealt with in the past. I’m not going to lie to you, it was so discouraging seeing symptoms of anxiety & depression sneaking into my life again. A couple of years ago, my mental health was greatly deteriorating & I sought medical help, & was on an anti-depressant for about a year. I thought that I had found victory in my mental health, as I had been much more emotionally & mentally stable recently, but the past few months have been full of crippling anxious thoughts & a heavy darkness that I just can’t seem to shake. It’s taken a toll on my health, friendships, & general quality of life. I don’t want to go back on an anti-depressant right now, because I don’t think that it ever solved my issues before, but rather suppressed my symptoms. I want my body & mind to heal this time, and I’m willing to embark on this journey slowly & gently. I’m no where near healed, but I’m functioning again. As I’m learning more about my physical, emotional, spiritual, & mental health, I’ve found a few things that really do seem to help. Remember to always seek the wise counsel of medical physicians before following any of my advice!

  1. Probiotics. I’ve read several studies lately showing a correlation between gut health & mental health. There seems to be a great connection between our brains & the right balance of good bacteria in our bellies. I’ve started taking a probiotic supplement daily, as well as adding in many probiotic-rich foods into my diet, such as kombucha, kefir, yogurt, apple cider vinegar, & fermented veggies. A healthy gut is good for my over all health, and it’s an easy way to support better mental health.
  2. Essential Oils. I’m not going to recommend a certain brand or blend to you, but oils are powerhouses, & they’ve been so helpful in aiding my healing journey. Find a reputable company that you trust, & look into their mood-enhancing blends. Or try a single oil like lavender, which is especially calming, or bergamot, which boosts downcast spirits. Rub them on your temples & chest & feet, diffuse them in the air, or simply smell them out of the bottle. I keep my calming blends with me at all times in my purse — I can’t tell you how many times they’ve brought peace to my anxious mind!
  3. Ashwagandha. Also known as Indian Ginseng, this powerful root works to support, not suppress, your body when it is experiencing stress. I’ve only been taking it a few weeks, but I’ve heard that as it builds up in your body, it can help quiet your mind & relieve the physical symptoms of anxiety. I’ve found that it already gives me the ability to have perspective, or to reason myself out of being anxious or depressed. It gives me clarity & draws me back to reality, & helps my body feel more relaxed. It’s considered safe for long-term use in moderate doses, so I feel okay about taking this supplement internally.
  4. Fill your ears with truth & grace. The last thing your mind wants when it is spiraling out of control is something else to take in, but I’ve found that calming music or podcasts can help so much in distracting me from the downward spiral. The distraction isn’t a fix for the problem, but songs & stories filled with truth can remind our minds & souls of the reality that the Lord is in control, & that we are His. Singing along to songs that declare the truth about who God is can life those clouds of darkness far away. Scripture memory is also such a weapon against mental & spiritual attack. Repeating the promises of who God is, & who we are because of that reality, makes the truths sink a little deeper into your soul & take root. Those roots will bear fruit in your life, & you’ll find your mind resting on the promises of God instead of filled with worry.
  5. Supplication with thanksgiving. In Philippians 4, Paul literally gives us a remedy for anxiety:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. -Phil 4:6-7

God tells us to make every request know to Him. Instead of bottling up our anxieties & being filled with worry & negativity, He tells us to simply share our troubles with Him. And what does He give us in this exchange? His peace, which surpasses all understanding, & guards our hearts & minds in Christ. It’s a peace that we can’t comprehend — it surpasses all of our understanding. But it’s real, & we can experience the sweet gift of His peace when we dump our problems at His feet instead of holding on to them with tight fists. But how are we to give him our supplications? With thanksgiving. It’s when we praise the Lord for what He’s done that we experience His peace. Look outside of your bubble & praise God for the mighty works He has done for you. He’ll bless you with His peace, & your gratitude might just overflow into the lives of those around you. God did not create you for brokenness, but for wholeness, & He is advocating and working in & through you until the day He returns & all is made as it should be. Until that day, keep praising Him & seeking health for His glory. You are loved!

Have you ever struggled with your mental health?

What are some things you do to pursue mental & spiritual wellness?

Photo by Joanie Simon on Unsplash

Songs to beat the autumnal blues.

Music, Recommendations, Uncategorized

I always say that autumn is my favorite season, & I really do think that it is. But for the past few years, autumn has held a whole lot of emotional weight to it. It’s been heavy & complicated. It’s been filled with change. It’s been riddled with self-doubt & insecurities. The shorter daylight as we rapidly approach winter isn’t helping anything, either. I find myself craving melancholy, morose tunes that match my inward reality, but those songs don’t help anything. I need to replace my negative headspace with some truth & a whole lot of Scripture.

Here’s a few joyful songs I’ve been listening to on repeat in this season to help combat those autumnal blues:

  • On and On by Housefires (on the album Housefires III, 2016). This song, guys. It’s been sweet solace for my soul when I doubt God’s love & forget His covenant with me. One of the most helpful ways to get out of a funk is to think less about me and more about God, and the song helps me to reflect on His faithfulness.
  • Love Don’t Stop by Eikon (on the album Look Up, 2017). What a reminder we need on the darker days, that God’s love doesn’t stop pursuing us. I love that the song talks about stopping and looking at what Christ accomplished on the cross, declaring that “hope is now alive.”
  • Amazing Grace (I’ve Got a Reason to Sing) by The Sing Team (on the album Sing On!, 2017). This new interpretation of Amazing Grace gives the song fresh life & allows the precious lyrics to sink deeper into my soul. The song turns from a lovely hymn into a lively jam you can’t help but sing along to. Also, any of the songs on this album are a good fix for the blues — truth delivered in a joyful, accessible, beautiful way. I also recommend “All Creatures of Our God and King and “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” They’re delightfully fresh takes on the classic tunes and sure to put some joy in your ears.
  • Nailed to the Cross” by Rend Collective (2017). This song is all about preaching the gospel to yourself, one of the best spiritual weapons we can wield against the enemy & our flesh & and the lies of the world. Praise God for what He’s done as you replace lies with truth through this encouraging song. Nearly any Rend Collective song will bring worship to your soul and happy tapping to your feet.
  • 23” by Red Rocks Worship ( on the album Living Liturgies, 2016). Psalm 23, set to a beautiful melody. Reminding yourself of God’s good Shepherding during even the darkest of seasons is sure to bring a whole lot of comfort. This song reminds me that the joy of the Lord is abundant — “You have made me a place where joy is overflowing.”

I hope these songs will be a blessing to you!

What do you listen to that speaks truth to your soul when it is downcast?

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

How we justify gossip (and why we shouldn’t).

Discipleship, Gossip, Sanctification, Sin, Words of Life

Can you think of a time that someone’s words had a great impact on you? Our words are weighty, and they truly influence the people around us. I have been convicted recently of how I have been using my tongue. I’ve caught myself indulging in gossip far too frequently. It’s so easy for me to pass along bits of information that are not mine to share in a conversation with a friend. I might not be saying anything negative about the people involved, but I still say things about them that I shouldn’t. It’s so easy for me to rationalize my sinful habit. Here’s a few reasons I found myself trying to justify my gossiping:

  1. I gossip because I “process things better verbally.” Sitting down with a friend over coffee seems like the perfect place to figure out that conflict happening at home or work, right? I want my friend’s wisdom in the situation, so of course I need to share every detail with her. But is verbally processing our relational drama with a friend the most biblical way to handle the situation? We see in Scripture that God is our ultimate Counselor — we need to start addressing and processing our issues with truth by first going to our Lord in prayer.

 

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.”

— Psalm 32:8, ESV

With God’s eye upon us and His counsel with us, we can walk fearlessly into relationships, not matter how messy they might seem, without the cheerleading and moral support of a gossip-filled conversation with a friend. You don’t need to debrief your demanding boss, annoying roommate, or stubborn friend over that iced latte on your next coffee date. Instead, you can meditate on what the Lord is teaching you through these circumstances, keeping the focus on Christ and His work in you instead of on the person frustrating you.

2. I also find myself gossiping when I don’t have much to talk about in my own life. When I’m feeling emotionally or spiritually stuck and don’t have anything to share with a friend, I’m prone to start talking about our mutual pals. Focusing on someone else’s problems seems so much easier than facing your own, but it is actually just using others. What we speak about in conversation with others is reflective of the state of our hearts.

“For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”

— Luke 6:43-45, ESV

The truth is that a heart that is not fully satisfied in Christ bears bad fruit. If there are issues in your walk with the Lord, ask your friend for prayer and advice about how to strengthen that relationship, instead of focusing on the faults or shortcomings of others. If your heart is treasuring up Christ and loving others, love and words of life will flow out of you. If this isn’t a reality for you right now, confess your sin to God and ask for His Spirit to fill you with His fruit.

3. Another way that I find myself turning to gossip in conversations is when I disguise it with an air of holiness. This often looks like turning someone I know into a “prayer request”, which truly is just a dishonoring and unloving practice. If you sincerely want prayer for this person, start in your own prayer closet, then graciously ask for it with decorum, honoring the individual by sparing unnecessary details and guarding their reputation in their conversation. If you would feel uncomfortable saying what you’re saying about them to their face, don’t say it. I also tend to default back to gossip-infused conversations when attempting to walk through messy situations as a small group. If a couple in your church broke up, or a major conflict occurred between friends, it’s natural to feel that you have to take sides. Processing through with others this might seem helpful, but please be guarded. I would again suggest starting with times of individual prayer, as God will do more through your prayers than you could ever accomplish through a conversation with a friend. He will direct you in how to unite and fortify the friend groups in your life, without dishonoring anyone or damaging their reputation.

Instead of turning to gossip to fill the gaps in our conversations or to process through the harder parts of life, followers of Christ are to first turn to the Lord in prayer. As we spend more time in prayer and in the Word, we will grow to hear His voice louder than all the gossip out there, and we will find that the Spirit enables us to bear good fruit in our conversations.

  • What is God teaching you about how you converse with others?
  • Do you have any other tips for combatting gossip?
Photo by Joshua Ness on Unsplash

 

On Affliction.

Uncategorized

David’s pen never wrote more sweetly than when dipped in the ink of affliction.

–Octavius Winslow

This quote is a balm to my soul. It’s so good to meditate upon the nature of God in the midst of suffering. My natural response to affliction is not to praise God. It’s usually to retreat from my life, to avoid the reality of what’s going on. But what if our suffering pushed us to worship? What if affliction became the kindling of our worship?

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Spurgeon: The Immutability of God

Uncategorized

With God “is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” Whatever his attributes were of old, they are now; his power, his wisdom, his justice, his truth, are alike unchanged. He has ever been the refuge of his people, their stronghold in the day of trouble, and he is their sure Helper still. He is unchanged in his love. He has loved his people with “an everlasting love”; he loves them now as much as ever he did, and when all earthly things shall have melted in the last conflagration, his love will still wear the dew of its youth. Precious is the assurance that he changes not! The wheel of providence revolves, but its axle is eternal love.

— Charles H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening, November 2 Morning

Photo by SnapbyThree MY on Unsplash

Welcome.

Miscellaneous

Welcome to With Inexpressible Joy. I’m Danielle, & it’s a pleasure to have you here. This space will be a curation of a few of my favorite things: studying the Word, collecting quotes, embarking on creative endeavors, highlighting the excellent bits of music I’ve discovered, sharing things I’ve learned, & much more. I pray that this space will be a blessing to you.

In the words of the author of Hebrews, may this be a place in which we “consider how to stir up one another to love & good works” (Heb 10:24, ESV). I’m so thankful for you, friends. Also, please let me know what you would like me to write about in future posts!

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